The Swiss parliament has announced that it is extending the scope of legal protection for acts of discrimination based on sexual orientation, with both houses of parliament now approving a motion to criminalise homophobia.

In this file photo gay and lesbian couples demonstrate on the eve of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities, at the Plaza de Armas square in Asuncion on May 16, 2014.

Homophobia is to be included in the same category as racism in the Swiss criminal code, and anyone who violates the law, either with racist or homophobic acts, can be sentenced to up to three years in prison.

The criminalization of homophobia is an extension of a Swiss anti-hate law that already criminalizes racism.

Anyone who violates the law, either with racist or homophobic acts, will now risk up to 3 years in prison.

“Homophobia is no longer seen as an opinion, but as a criminal offence. It’s the same as being racist,” Swiss politician Mathias Reynard said.

Although Switzerland has made progress by extending the law to include sexual orientation, it has so far excluded discrimination based on gender identity.

Excluding discrimination based on gender identity further marginalizes Trans and Intersex people from society, and puts them at a heightened risk.

Activists argue that to ensure the protection of these groups, and to be a fully inclusive society, the government needs to update the laws to include discrimination based on gender identity.

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